When I was a medical student, I became involved in an abusive relationship. As is often the case, the abuse started with controlling behavior and emotional abuse, and it was not immediately obvious to me or my friends and family what was going on.
We married early in my third year of medical school, and it was after our wedding that the abuse escalated to become increasingly violent, including physical and sexual violence. When I attempted to leave the relationship, it culminated in a serious episode that ended in my abuser eventually suffocating me and shooting himself. I was lucky to survive this incident, as did my abuser, but this was just the beginning of years-long legal struggles.
Immediately after the incident, I was terrified for my safety and unsure of what to do next. One of the police officers who took my statement handed me a resource card with information about AVDA. I reached out to AVDA and quickly was scheduled for an intake interview. The staff and attorneys at AVDA were all amazing and made me feel so supported at an extremely difficult time. They quickly helped me obtain a protective order and then worked with me over several months to secure a divorce. This was no small feat as my abuser was active duty in the military and this presented a lot of barriers to my being able to file the necessary paperwork to be able to get a divorce.
Without AVDA, I am not sure how I would have gotten through this period. I was a medical student living on student loans and had a busy schedule of clinical rotations and board exams. I could never have afforded the legal help that I needed to be able to divorce my abuser on my own and would probably have had to interrupt my studies in order to work and afford these expenses. Thanks to their support, I was able to graduate from medical school on time, pass all of my exams, and move forward with my residency training to become a family physician. I have been able to support many of my patients through similar circumstances and direct them to a safe exit plan and resources like AVDA to be able to move on with their lives as well.
I am eternally grateful to AVDA and I am so happy to see how much they have grown since they helped me years ago. Their services are a Godsend to domestic violence victims and it is so important for these individuals to be aware of and have access to these resources.